Saturday, January 28, 2023

Redskins ride early lead to win over Huskies

CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS—Cuyahoga Heights’ football team was as rowdy as its home crowd in Friday’s 41-13 win over Cardinal.

The Redskins, who improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division, jumped out to a big lead and never looked back. The Huskies dropped to 1-4, 0-2.

“We say every day, you can't always control the outcome, we can control our effort,” said Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal. “I liked our effort. It was a high effort, high octane sort of game. I was proud of the way we competed."

Cuyahoga Heights kept Cardinal off balance on the game’s opening possession with a combination of runs and passes. Senior quarterback Brett Lowther capped the drive with a nine-yard rushing touchdown.

The Redskins then challenged the Huskies to stop their running game. Junior fullback Lucas D’Orazio scored on a 21-yard run but the Redskins failed to convert the extra point and led, 13-0.

Cardinal finally had something go its way when junior defensive lineman Andrew Bolton recovered a Redskins fumble on the Huskies 32. After converting on fourth-and-inches, and a 29-yard run by slippery senior Addison Dorn, the drive stalled and the Huskies turned the ball over on downs at the Redskins 22.

Cuyahoga Heights quickly moved down the field and scored on a D’Orazio one-yard run that made it 20-0.

After a lengthy two-minute style drive led by sophomore quarterback Matt Carney that took the Huskies inside the Redskins' red zone for the first time all night, Redskins' junior defensive back Dylan Drummond picked off a third down pass at the 4-yard line and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown.

“The game got away from us when we were down here trying to score in the second quarter." Cardinal said. “The complexion of the game is, if we score it's 20-7 and if they (Redskins) score its 27-0. That's a 14 point turnaround."

In one of the few lighthearted moments of the night, seconds after the touchdown, the lights on the west end of the stadium went out. Referees made the quick decision to kick the extra point on the opposite end of the field, and after a lengthy conversation between the referees and both coaches, halftime was called with 11.6 seconds left on the game clock.

The second half began with the Huskies receiving the ball but after having their fourth down punt blocked, the Redskins marched down the field to score on a 14-yard dash by Lowther.

On the next Cuyahoga Heights possession following an interception by senior defensive back Trey Combs, the Redskins scored their final touchdown of the night on a 70-yard rush by junior quarterback Ryan Polk.

The Huskies didn't hang their heads, as they continued to fight scoring first on a 36-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Kyle Simms, and then on a four-yard rush by sophomore fullback Jacob Gotham to close out the scoring.

“We told our kids before halftime, ‘You know those kids play hard. They aren't going to lay down, they are going to come out and play physical,’” said Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin. “We haven't won the division in several years. That has been Kirtland's. We are trying to get another crack at them.”

Simms led the Huskies with 133 rushing yards on 16 times with one touchdown. He shared the load in the backfield with Gotham and Dorn, who chipped in with 52 and 51 yards, respectively.

Lowther completed 4 of 7 passes for 69 yards and rushed the ball seven times for 65 yards and two scores for the Redskins. D'Orazio pitched in as well with 55 yards and two scores. Kicker Mark Shafer hit five extra points on the night.

Cardinal hosts Fairport Harding on Friday while Cuyahoga Heights hosts Richmond Heights.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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